Ohio GOP leaders reject Democrats' plan to get President Joe Biden on November ballot


Ohio officials rejected a plan from Democrats to get President Joe Biden on the November ballot after the party scheduled its convention past a state election deadline.

Secretary of State Frank LaRose warned Ohio Democrats earlier this month that Biden is at risk of not making the Nov. 5 ballot. State law requires officials to certify the ballot 90 days before an election − which is Aug. 7 this year − but the president won’t officially be nominated until the Democratic National Convention on Aug. 19.

In a letter to LaRose’s office, obtained by the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, attorney Don McTigue said the Democratic Party would provisionally certify Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris ahead of the Aug. 7 deadline. McTigue noted that Biden had already secured enough delegates for the Democratic nomination after facing no significant primary challenge.

Biden easily won Ohio’s presidential primary with 87% of the vote.

“If President Biden and Vice President Harris are not listed on the ballot as the Democratic Party candidates, their supporters in Ohio will be stripped of the opportunity to associate with their preferred candidate,” McTigue wrote.

But Attorney General Dave Yost’s office says provisional approval won’t work, nor can LaRose unilaterally change election deadlines.

“Instead, the law mandates the Democratic Party to actually certify its president and vice-president candidates on or before August 7, 2024,” Julie M. Pfeiffer, an attorney on Yost’s staff, told LaRose’s legal counsel. “No alternative process is permitted.”

Ohio leaves Biden, Democrats in a bind

Pfeiffer’s letter appears to leave Democrats with two options: Rely on the Legislature, or sue.

Lawmakers could pass an exemption to the 90-day deadline by May 9, as they did in 2020 when both parties scheduled their conventions too late. But the chances of that are slim: Top Democrats said they’re deferring to the Biden campaign and Democratic National Committee, and Republican leaders are unlikely to lend a helping hand.

“I think it’s a Democratic problem,” Senate President Matt Huffman, R-Lima, told reporters last week. “There should have to be a Democratic solution. That hasn’t been proposed to me.”

Ohio isn’t the only state with election deadlines before the convention. Alabama and Washington are in the same boat, although Washington’s secretary of state − a Democrat − will accept a provisional certification, the Seattle Times reported. Oklahoma, Illinois, Washington and Montana did the same with both parties in 2020.

McTigue and, a spokesperson for Biden’s campaign declined to answer questions about potential next steps.

“Joe Biden will be on the ballot in all 50 states,” a Biden campaign official said. “State officials have the ability to grant provisional ballot access certification prior to the conclusion of presidential nominating conventions.”

Haley BeMiller is a reporter for the USA TODAY Network Ohio Bureau, which serves the Columbus Dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, Akron Beacon Journal and 18 other affiliated news organizations across Ohio.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio rejects Democrats’ fix to get Joe Biden on November ballot



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